3.5-star prospect Brenden MacLaren recently committed to Ferris State. The ’98 grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., where he played his youth hockey before leaving for the Janesville Jets of the NAHL. The forward is slated to play for the Bulldogs in 2019.
Neutral Zone caught up with MacLaren to chat about his youth hockey experience and why he committed to Ferris State.
Neutral Zone: How and when did you start playing hockey?
Brenden MacLaren: Hockey is kind of a religion where I’m from and my dad and brother played hockey.
NZ: What’s your earliest memory from playing hockey?
BM: My earliest memory in hockey is winning a tournament in mites.
NZ: What was your youth hockey experience like?
BM: It was really fun playing in a small town with all my best friends.
NZ: How did you end up in the NAHL?
BM: During my third season of AAA on the Soo Indians I signed a tender with Janesville.
NZ: When did you decide you wanted to play college hockey?
BM: Ever since I was little I’ve wanted to play college hockey. Just going to watch the games and everything, it has always been a dream of mine.
NZ: Take us through the NCAA recruitment process. What other schools were you talking to and where did you visit?
BM: I talked to a couple schools and visited one but all the coaches I’ve talked to were great through the whole process.
NZ: What made you decide to commit to Ferris State?
BM: Ferris has always been one of my top choices. It’s just a great school and it’s an unreal hockey program. It’ll be great to play in Michigan again.
NZ: What went into that decision for you and your family to know it was the right place?
BM: My family has been great and really supportive through this whole process. Ferris is only three and half hours from home, which is nice and my sister lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., so she’ll be really close to me.
NZ: What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen while playing hockey?
BM: Probably when my squirt AA coach pulled our goalie for the rest of the game after the first period.
NZ: What’s the best piece of advice anyone’s given you in hockey?
BM: “Just have fun and work hard. If you’re not having fun then quit now, because hockey’s the best game in the world.”
NZ: What are your best on-ice skills?
BM: Playing a 200-foot game, shooting the puck and playing with grit.
NZ: What aspect of your game are you working on improving the most?
BM: Making right plays when I’m in distress and keep getting stronger.
NZ: Is there a professional player you model your game after?
BM: Tom Wilson on the Washington Capitals.
NZ: What’s the toughest challenge you’ve faced in hockey?
BM: Last season when I wasn’t playing much and battling through adversity.
Photo Credit: Hickling Images